Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nobody Likes A Bully-- Except The Republican Base... And The Blue Dogs


What Romney did was not a prank or bullying... it was assault!

I'm surprised Romney didn't leak out the incident about how he bullied a gay classmate-- or presumed gay classmate-- when he was in a private school for rich snobs ($38,900/year is the tuition) earlier. It probably would have helped him in places where Republicans appreciate that kind of behavior, the states, basically, that Santorum won-- Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma. Maybe the Romney operatives figured getting this story out now-- on top of President Obama's historic assertion this week about equality-- would cement a bond between Romney and the most backward and reactionary segments of the population that may still be nervous about the Mormon quest to take over the government or about all the flip-flopping on the issues that are most important to them.

Romney's whole career-long relationship with the LGBT community is disturbing. Andrew Kaczynski put together a timeline at BuzzFeed yesterday that shows Romney's de-evolution from bragging he would be "better" on gay issues than Ted Kennedy and throwing parties in Boston to celebrate Gay Pride Day to catering to unreconstructed low-info rednecks in Mississippi by taking a position against civil unions that is far to the right of the American public. But it was Jason Horowitz's story in yesterday's Washingon Post about Romney's days in prep school that puts the anti-social political opportunist into some kind of perspective. Romney tried protecting his own status-- probably worried he would be singled out as a Mormon-- by bullying gay students. "He was not a natural athlete," wrote Horowitz, "but found his place among the jocks by managing the hockey team and leading megaphone cheers for the football team. Although a devout Mormon, one of the few at the school, he was less defined by his faith than at any other time in his life."
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them-- Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal-- spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

“He was just easy pickins,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

Romney says he doesn't remember the ugly incident and refused requests from the media for interviews. While Obama's support for LGBT equality was being widely hailed as a courageous act setting an important international precedent, the Republican House took another tact-- a typical display of vicious homophobia. The House passed a gratuitously anti-gay amendment by Kansas' fanatic hate-monger Tim Huelskamp, who is so hung up on gay issues that psychologists just assume he's either gay himself or spending a great deal of time repressing his homosexual desires. His amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from actively opposing DOMA in the courts. Nancy Pelosi led almost all Democrats in opposition to the GOP ploy. “On an historic day and in the dark of night, House Republicans have voted to tie the hands of the Obama administration with respect to their efforts to end discrimination against America’s families. House Republicans continue to plant their feet firmly on the wrong side of history.” But, depending on how you define "Democrat," not every "Democrat" agreed with her. The viciously homophobic Blue Dog caucus-- and a few of their fellow travelers-- hid behind Cantor's skirts and voted with the Republicans. The amendment passed 245-171, all but 7 Republicans vote with the hatemongers. Sixteen anti-LGBT "Democrats" voted with the Republicans:
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)
Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY)
Jerry Costello (IL)
Mark Critz (PA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA)
Larry Kissell (Blue Dog-NC)
Dan Lipinski (IL)
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC)
Colin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Nick Rahall (WV)
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)
Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC)

If you're missing homophobic extremist Joe Donnelly's name from the list, fear not. He didn't vote. He was busy in Indiana running around calling Dick Mourdock an extremist and campaigning for the Senate. He always votes against LGBT equality and is as bad a hatemonger as any Republican, including Mourdock. And for the people who were happy that Critz won the Pennsylvania primary against Altmire, Altmire voted with the Democrats on this and Critz stayed true to his homophobic predilections. Just keep blindly donating to the DCCC.

All the cowering Republican closet cases, like Aaron Schock, Trent Franks, Adrian Smith, Patrick McHenry, David Dreier, etc and the hardcore homophobic absolutists like Cantor, McKeon, Bachmann, King, McHenry and Paul Ryan led the charge-- as usual-- against the LGBT community. Voters in these congressmen's communities will have a very clear choice in November. Contrast, for example, Ryan's deranged homophobia with the statement his progressive opponent, Rob Zerban, made Wednesday:
President Obama did something very brave this afternoon.
He stood up and said exactly what he felt, and didn’t care about the impending onslaught from right-wing extremists sure to come his way... I applaud our president for standing up for what he believes in-- that all Americans deserve equal rights to marry the person they love.

For too long, Americans have been treated like second-class citizens by people like Mitt Romney, Scott Walker and Paul Ryan. They have forced a war on women, criticized people for who they love, and worked to deny Americans the right to vote.

Blue America has a page dedicated to replacing the worst of the delusional homophobes in Congress, from the self-loathing, sniveling little Patrick McHenry and screeching bigots like Steve King, right through to the deadly-but-quieter hatemongers like Paul Ryan. Please pay it a visit and consider helping the pro-equality candidates running against them.

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At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me among those who consider Obama's announcement to be 100% calculating and cynical. He has spent the last 3 1/2 years pissing on the people who voted for him, and he's trying to bring them back into the fold. (It won't work for me - much too little and much too late.) It's just about the only bone he could throw to the Left that wouldn't annoy the banksters who are financing him.

I think that the number of people who would have voted for him but changed their minds because of this announcement is just about zero. And it will tend to bring in the younger crowd that has been pretty unhappy with him until now. As a political move, this one was a no-brainer.

But I gotta give Obama credit for something - his timing was a masterstroke! Just brilliant. (Do you suppose someone at the Post told Obama last week that this story was coming out? I wonder.) He sure made the Mittster look like troglodyte scum.

I guess this is how progress gets made - by fits and starts, lots of missteps, very slowly and for all the wrong reasons. But whatever. It's progress, and I'll take it.

At 5:22 AM, Blogger John said...

Sure, nobody but "the Republican base ... and the Blue Dogs" like a bully. BUT hey comprise robust control of congress and, at least, very close to controlling fraction of the electorate.

John Puma


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